A Modern Tropical Wedding at Sunken Gardens in St. Petersburg, Florida
Sarah Nadler and Brent Gallas jokingly refer to their wedding style as "wildlife explorer glam." They based the day around their shared love of animals, their natural garden venue and a color palette of muted earth tones, tropical colors and metallics. They also chose their vendors based on their community service and ethical practices and strived to have a waste-free wedding. "We had so much fun researching and interviewing vendors to learn about their values, their practices and how they gave back to the community in small or big ways," Sarah says. "Since the vendors are such a huge part of the day, it was so important to us that they would not only have great businesses, but that their energy was fun and warm." The ceremony took place in front of a natural wall of bougainvillea and tropical foliage. It incorporated several Jewish traditions, including a right-hand ring ceremony. According to Sarah, this is "based on the old Jewish tradition of allowing a bride to have the final say on whether or not the marriage was finalized by moving her ring from her right hand (where the groom placed it during the ceremony) to her left hand within a day or two of the ceremony once committing fully." Guests sat in a semicircular arrangement on natural wood chairs, and potted tropical leaves served as aisle decorations. For the indoor reception, Sarah and Brent relied on lighting to highlight the trees and leaves outside of the windows. They also decorated with wood farm tables, gauze runners, eclectic brass vases with tropical leaves, slices of fresh citrus and vintage blue-green votives. "We had a basket of jungle stuffed animals including sloths, monkeys, parrots, toucans, flamingos and frogs for the kids who came to the wedding. Each kid got to choose a stuffed animal to 'adopt.' It was sweet seeing them leave at the end of the night sleepy and hugging their new friend," Sarah says. Brent wore a contemporary three-piece slate-blue suit with a white shirt and no tie. Sarah had two separate outfits: an ivory-rose layered mermaid dress with a cape veil for the ceremony and a reception gown crafted by her mom from a damaged dress. She carried a bouquet of tropical leaves and king protea. The couple had a nonbinary wedding party, who chose to get ready with either the bride or groom, and Sarah surprised Brent with a gospel choir during their first dance. "The choir was so incredible to work with—learning our first dance song ('Move You' by Kelly Clarkson) and working with their musicians to develop a track that subtly transitioned from the original song to a background track so they could surprisingly take over in the middle of the dance," Sarah says.